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Statement on Recent Specimen Collection Activities in Florida    

October 8, 2018

Texas A&M University at Galveston would like to clarify incorrect information that was spread via social media channels over the weekend regarding a fish collection trip conducted by Moody Gardens Aquarium along the southeast Florida coast.

  • Texas A&M University at Galveston’s involvement. One graduate student in the Marine Biology interdisciplinary program, who also serves as a part-time employee of the non-profit Moody Gardens Aquarium, participated as a member of the collection team. He, working under his advisor, had a permit to work with the team and collect.

    All fish collected went to Moody Gardens Aquarium, with a planned twelve individuals to be transferred to Texas A&M Galveston Campus as part of its research on captive breeding strategies.

  • Goal of the Work. This work was conducted as part of a captive breeding program that zoos and aquariums are using to develop stocks that can be shared with each other. This contributes to the conservation of these important fish species. This will decrease the need for collecting from the wild. Universities across the country are working towards the protection of fisheries from pollution, stressors and the changing environment.

  • Proper procedures were followed. According to false reports, thousands of specimens were collected resulting in the destruction of important nursey grounds of numerous fish species at Blue Heron Bridge diving site. This is incorrect. Only 40 fish were collected and retained from the Blue Heron Bridge site, which was on the approved permit. All specimens were collected by legal means.

  • No specimen collected was on the endangered species list. None of the collected species are listed as threatened or endangered.

  • Valid permits. All permits were valid and issued through the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

  • Collected specimens and their numbers were well below legal allowance. These facts were verified on-site by four officers of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

  • The Smithsonian Marine Station was not involved. The Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, Florida did not participate in this collection trip and no divers were hired by the Smithsonian Marine Station for specimen collection.

  • Responsible stewardship is critical. Texas A&M University at Galveston is committed to the conservation and study of marine life. We encourage and participate in the responsible stewardship of the environment.


Media contact:

Gen. Bill McClain
External Communications Officer

Shantelle Patterson-Swanson
Communications Manager

Marine Biology
Executive News

Texas A&M University at Galveston is an ocean-oriented branch campus of Texas A&M University which educates nearly 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students in a unique blend of marine and maritime programs, including majors in science, business, engineering, liberal arts, and transportation. It is driving the development of the blue economy in the Gulf Coast Region and is a critical contributor to Texas A&M’s sea-grant portion of Texas A&M’s rare land-, sea-, space-grant mission with nearly $10 million in research expenditures.
Texas A&M-Galveston is also home to the Texas A&M Maritime Academy, one of seven in the U.S. and the only academy integrated into a Tier 1 academic institution, which trains over 400 cadets annually for maritime service and employment around the world. Texas A&M-Galveston is ideally located in Galveston, Texas on the Gulf Coast where is it surrounded by the industry, environment and programs essential to fulfilling its special-purpose mission. Aggies are known for their deep commitment to the success of each other and their strong desire to serve.

If you are interested in supporting this endeavor or research, please contact the Texas A&M University at Galveston Office of Development by email at or by calling (409) 740-4481.